Plans to re­place li­brary with one at for­mer chapel

South Wales Echo - - NEWS -

A POP­U­LAR Cardiff li­brary, which was closed on health and safety grounds, could be re­placed in a scheme in which it would be part of a cafe and in­for­ma­tion cen­tre at a dis­used hos­pi­tal chapel.

Roath Li­brary was shut in Novem­ber 2014 be­cause of sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems, in­clud­ing a boiler fail­ure and leaky roof.

Cardiff coun­cil says it could cost more than £700,000 to re­fur­bish.

But the move prompted pro­test­ers to ar­gue the author­ity should ei­ther bring the ex­ist­ing build­ing back into use or pro­vide an­other li­brary of a sim­i­lar size in its place.

Now, Cardiff coun­cil is propos­ing to con­vert the for­mer chapel at Cardiff Royal In­fir­mary on New­port Road – close to the for­mer li­brary site – into a new fa­cil­ity.

Work­ing along­side the Cardiff and Vale Univer­sity Health Board, the Read­ing Cafe project would also fea­ture a cafe and in­for­ma­tion cen­tre.

The health board has long-held plans to cre­ate health and well­be­ing cen­tres across the re­gion – and said it was “log­i­cal” to work along­side the coun­cil to in­cor­po­rate a re­place­ment li­brary.

The coun­cil said the chapel had the po­ten­tial to “be­come a vi­brant hub for the Adams­down and Roath com­mu­ni­ties”.

It said ser­vices could also in­clude a chil­dren’s area, Wi-Fi, PCs, meet­ing rooms and read­ing groups.

A tem­po­rary li­brary has been sit­u­ated at the in­fir­mary for some time, but the lat­est pro­posal – to be con­sid­ered by a coun­cil scru­tiny com­mit­tee this week and dis­cussed by cab­i­net later this month – is for some­thing per­ma­nent.

Lib Dem coun­cil­lor for Adams­down, Nigel How­ells, has been crit­i­cal of the tem­po­rary li­brary pro­vi­sion at the in­fir­mary.

And hav­ing viewed the new pro­pos­als, he said: “I still have se­ri­ous reser­va­tions that we may be hav­ing a di­lu­tion of ser­vices in the Adams­down area.

“The chapel is sig­nif­i­cantly smaller [than the old Roath Li­brary], mean­ing there will be fewer books, fewer PCs and less com­mu­nity space.”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port pre­pared ahead of Thurs­day’s meet­ing, pro­posed ser­vices at the new li­brary in­clude books and ma­te­ri­als which are “com­men­su­rate with com­mu­nity re­quire­ments for a com­pre­hen­sive li­brary ser­vice” and 12 PCs, com­pared to eight at the old Roath Li­brary.

The cafe would also sell “com­pet­i­tively priced drinks and light food”.

Peter Brad­bury, Cardiff coun­cil’s cab­i­net mem­ber for com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, said: “A con­sid­er­able amount of time has passed since Roath Li­brary closed and while tem­po­rary pro­vi­sion has been in place, there is a press­ing need to find a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion for both the pro­vi­sion of li­brary ser­vices in the area and the build­ing on New­port Road.

“The con­ver­sion of the chapel at Cardiff Royal In­fir­mary presents us with an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a Read­ing Cafe en­vi­ron­ment and se­cure long-term li­brary ser­vice pro­vi­sion to meet the needs of peo­ple liv­ing and work­ing in the area.”

Ge­off Walsh, the health board’s di­rec­tor of cap­i­tal, es­tates and fa­cil­i­ties, ex­plained that there was a long-stand­ing plan to con­vert the for­mer chapel into a cafe and in­for­ma­tion cen­tre.

“When Cardiff coun­cil iden­ti­fied a need to pro­vide a li­brary for the com­mu­nity it was log­i­cal to also con­sider util­is­ing the chapel as part of the plan,” he said.

“This is an­other ex­am­ple of the health board and Cardiff coun­cil work­ing in part­ner­ship to pro­vide im­proved com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties.

“We want to cre­ate a hub for the com­mu­nity, pa­tients, staff and vis­i­tors to the CRI site which the chapel, cafe and li­brary would pro­vide.”

The coun­cil still hopes to un­der­take a com­mu­nity as­set trans­fer in re­spect of the old Roath Li­brary.

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